Friday, August 21, 2009

Horse hockey!

Like many a Supreme Court Justice, I read Nancy Drew mysteries as a child. How I wish that "Carolyn Keene" had not decided that she needed to dumb Nancy down for young readers. Nancy does not need to be a 3rd grader. To a 3rd grade reader, Nancy was the height of sophistication and moxie. If nothing else the Stratemeyer Syndicate taught us that the wheels of commerce must grind forward, and so we have Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew. Nancy and her crew (cousins George and Bess) are cute and perky 3rd graders and they solve neighborhood mysteries. Gag me! I mean, look at that horse! No girl who reads this drivel will ever aspire to the Supreme Court!

In this episode, Buttons -- the Shetland pony from the new petting zoo -- has been escaping from his barn each night. Every morning in River Heights, Buttons can be found in someone's yard, contentedly munching the flowers. (Stereotypically, the librarian is the only one to freak out when this happens: dressed in her nightgown, she shoos Buttons away to the amusement of the neighborhood. Ha! Ha!) Nancy pulls out her purple notebook and matching pen and sets out with George and Bess to solve the mystery of how Buttons is getting out of the locked barn.

Well, if you aren't paying close attention, you'll miss the clue that tells you how (I did), so I guess it wasn't completely predictable.

The very youthful-sounding Cassandra Morris reads this. She narrates with an optimism and sunnyness that was perfectly appropriate to the material. Although she went at a fairly slow pace -- befitting a read-along book -- she varied it enough to keep it interesting. Books for this age group are pretty dialog-heavy, with accompanying "Nancy said"s. Morris manages to keep the dialog going without getting bogged down in all the "said"s. No small accomplishment.

Still, I say, read the "real" Nancy (the ones with the yellow spines). Which, of course, aren't the real ones either. My parents tried to fob off those older versions on me (which come to think of it, probably had yellow spines on the dust covers). No way, I wanted the yellow spined ones!

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